The Republican National Convention (RNC)n has only been going for a few hours, and it has already devolved into contention and chaos on the floor. Late this afternoon, Republicans running the convention denied a roll call vote on the convention's rules, frustrating forces opposed to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who supported the maneuver.
The details are somewhat arcane, but the important thing to understand is that this was the last, last, last ditch effort by Republicans opposed to Trump, and it was quashed by the convention's leaders, resulting in shouting and chaos on the floor—and even the walkout of Colorado's delegation.
RNC rules say that a majority of delegates from at least seven delegations can petition for a roll call vote. Anti-Trump forces this afternoon said that a majority from nine delegations had signed a petition for a roll call vote. But the petition was denied after Republicans managing the convention said that three of the states had withdrawn their support for the petition. At this point, it's still unclear which states withdrew their support for the full roll call vote.
For Republicans opposed to Trump, the point of the rules vote was to replace the conventions rules with new rules that would unbind delegates and allow them to vote for anyone they wanted, regardless of the primary results in their state. The hope was that this would end with Trump not receiving a majority of delegates on the first vote, resulting in an open convention and the opportunity to replace Trump with a different presidential nominee. In addition, there were people who wanted to see changes to the 2020 candidate selection process, some of which might have made it harder for Trump to secure the nomination again.
It was unlikely to work even if the rules vote had been approved. But it might have given anti-Trump forces the opportunity to display symbolic opposition to the nominee. They'll have to settle for a bit of floor chaos instead.
The fact that this vote even happened shows how divisive Trump remains, despite a lot of talk of unifying around the nominee. Those opposed to Trump have suggested that the RNC may not have played fair: In an interview with MSNBC following the vote, Virginia delegate and former state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli accused the RNC's leaders of having "cheated" and "violated their own rules." A strongly worded statement by the NeverTrumpPAC essentially accuses party officials of having rigged the vote by "skirting the rules" and "strong-arming" delegates into withdrawing their support for the roll call petition.
The refusal to allow that vote to take place, following a similar rules vote last week, also shows how fully the party apparatus has given itself over to Trump and his candidacy. We're less than a full day in, but this year's RNC has already made it clear that the GOP is now the Party of Trump.